Winnetka, Sports

Smith, New Trier get best of Loyola in annual Thanksgiving matchup

Perimeter shooting and New Trier basketball go together like turkey and gravy. But like a Thanksgiving meal, the Trevians’ side dishes can be quite satisfying too.

On Thanksgiving eve, Wednesday, Nov. 22, the Trevians side dish of choice was the backdoor cut, and they served Loyola Academy a sizable helping en route to a 44-39 victory in Winnetka.

Junior guard Colby Smith was the beneficiary of many backdoor feeds and said his team’s ability to shoot sets it all up.

“I hit two threes early and they started face guarding, and (forward Will) LeeMaster is so good at that backdoor pass, we we just started (going to) that,” Smith said. “… It was just working all game.”

The Trevians would run their offense through LeeMaster at the top of the key and then move off the ball in his line of vision. The senior recorded several nifty assists by sliding the ball to his teammates cutting toward the basket.

Will LeeMaster lets out a celebratory scream after the Trevians’ victory.

The action helped Smith rack up a game-high 19 points, while Chris Kirkpatrick (7 points) and Logan Feller (6 points, 11 rebounds) also got in on it.

The backdoor success was a key advantage for the Trevians in a game where the scoring margin rarely exceeded two possessions.

“It’s a little new wrinkle for them. They lift their big guy (LeeMaster) and he’s a tremendous passer and they just backcut the heck out of us,” Ramblers coach Tom Livatino said. “We’re getting out and we’re denying their guys (the ball on defense). We have to understand when they run that action what’s coming and have to be less aggressive extending.”

New Trier created a bit of separation, 20-14, going into halftime, but Loyola tied things up at 24-24 early in the third quarter.

The Trevians again separated from the Ramblers, 32-24, but that didn’t last long either. Down the stretch, back to back Loyola 3-pointers (Andrew Holerich and Jimmy Tarjan) made it a three-point ballgame with just over two minutes to play.

But the Ramblers never found the equalizer, and New Trier held on thanks in part to two late charges.

“We have a couple of experienced downstate players in the game and they played like it,” New Trier coach Scott Fricke said.

Fricke also added that New Trier was coming off a tough game against Lake Zurich on Tuesday, Nov. 21, when it took a late 3-pointer from Smith to give the Trevs a victory.

It was a different story Wednesday.

“What a difference a day makes,” he said. “Tonight we played together. We played hard. We took charges. We rebounded. (Loyola’s) a big physical team. I’m proud of our kids.”

Aside from the backdoor feeds, LeeMaster added 4 points and 2 blocks. Brown finished with 8 points.

Loyola was led by seniors Miles Boland (7 rebounds) and Jimmy Tarjan, who scored 11 points a piece, while Andrew Hollerich chipped in 9. Adam Dougherty added 7 points and 10 rebounds.

Loyola’s Miles Boland keeps the ball away from New Trier’s Chris Kirkpatrick.

The Trevians improve to 3-0 and will play Lake Forest on Saturday, Nov. 25, in the championship game of the New Trier-Loyola Thanksgiving Tournament. Loyola (2-1) will take on Lake Forest Academy in the third-place tilt.

Looking to build off major recent success, New Trier features a guard-heavy lineup, as Smith, Feller and Brown return from last year’s rotation. LeeMaster, a senior, and Kirkpatrick, a highly touted sophomore, enter the starting lineup. Sophomore sharpshooter Danny Houilhan is slated to see big minutes off the bench.

The Trevians should see regularly scoring from all of the above, and the leading scorer will probably change from night to night, Fricke said.

Loyola opened the season with victories over Lake Zurich and Butler Prep before falling to New Trier.

Boland is the biggest name returning from Loyola. The scoring guard can convert shots on all three levels and does a little bit of everything else for the Ramblers. And he is surrounded by plenty of experience. Guards Tarjan and Hollerich spent time in last year’s starting lineup, while transfer guard Nick Patton (Ohio) opens the season in the starting lineup and gives the rotation a scoring boost.

And reinforcements are on the way soon enough. Livatino said Ramblers football players Ryan Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-4 wing and rugged defender; Brendan Loftus, 6-7 and the team’s starting player on the block; and Donovan Robinson, a 6-3 wing, are all expected to see minutes for Loyola — once they wrap up a little business at state.

“They are weeks away from being productive for us,” Livatino said. “That is not an excuse. This is what it is at Loyola. It’s fine. It’s good. We’re happy about it.”

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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